Remembering the “Chozen” Ones
Although many outside of the DC area may not be familiar with The Chozen Da-Scyplez, they were arguably one of the most significant influences on DC’s Christian rap scene. Although they are no longer together as a unit, they have left an indelible footprint on the DC Christian rap landscape that will not soon be forgotten.
The Chozen Da-Scyplez, then consisting of group members, Monte Dugger, Raymond Jacobs and Landis McEachin, burst onto the scene in summer of 1999 after being featured in the “hip-hop musical” — “SIMPLE.” The soundtrack to the play, Judgment Comes First, doubled as their debut album and was rich with hot beats and even hotter lyrics that dealt with the hypocrisy that exists within some churches. The songs “Church Wunted, Ded or Alive,” “Keep It N Da Family,” and “Stand” had believers bobbing their heads as well as checking their “Motivez” (another cut off of the CD). The Chozen Da-Scyplez’s unique style of rap that feature scripture-infused, thought provoking lyrics laced over rich tracks proved to be a potent tool for the Kingdom as hundreds of youth across the area were drawn to Christ through their music.
After enjoying a successful debut, the duo of Monte and Landis, signed with the now defunct, Sold Out Records in 2000 and released what was arguably their most successful album. Speak the Unspoken, cemented their position as true ambassadors of DC area Christian rap with the chart topping cut “Grace,” which held the number one spot for countless weeks on the area’s number one gospel radio station at the time. Despite the success of their project, irreconcilable differences with their record label left the group’s future in question.
The Chozen Da-Scyplez later rebounded, forming their own record label — Blood N Water Records — and released their most ambitious project. He Who Has An Ear… was released in 2003 and introduced the world to their Blood N Water label mates, Shannell Chandler (now McEachin), Devin Turner and the late Fred Gordon. These three, along with the Chozen Da-Scyplez released a compilation album that dealt with a broad range of topics from the love of money, to apathy in praise and worship, and more. The symphonic anthem, “God Iz,” was even featured on the New Wine project of the now saved hip-hop veteran, Frankie Cutlass, in 2004. It was during the making of He Who Has An Ear… that McEachin’s talent as a music producer became evident as he produced the majority of the songs on the project.
Despite their local success and being poised to take the Gospel Rap industry by storm nationally, The Chozen Da-Scyplez decided to go their separate ways in order to fulfill their individual callings.
Landis left Blood N Water, and along with his wife Shannell formed C.I.S.U.M. Productions (Christ Illustrated Stylistically Using Music), a strictly Christian hip-hop & Gospel music production studio. Landis and his wife Shannell live in the suburbs of Washington, DC with their two children.
Monte went solo and released several mixtapes on the Blood N Water Records label. His first mixtape, 1 Minute 2 Pray – A Lyfetime 2 Die had several cuts featuring former Da-Scyple member Raymond Jacobs, as well as DC area Christian rapper, Enyaphace. His second offering, Prophets Without Honor, had Monte teaming with fellow Christian rapper, Chinko. Monte’s final offering, Twice Born, signaled his retirement from the Christian rap industry. Monte is now married and lives in the Richmond, VA area.
Raymond Jacobs, over the years, has compiled a short catalogue of music that currently remains unpublished. Raymond presently resides in the suburbs of Washington, DC with his five children.
Although they may not be well known outside of the DMV, The Chozen Da-Scyplez were truly, ground-breaking pioneers on the DC Christian rap scene. And just as their impact was felt as a group, we look forward to seeing the impact that they will have in Christendom on their individual journeys.